So you’re a long-time buyer of canned fruits. You like how they can be stored for months in your pantry, and you don’t have to worry about them going bad.
Now you’re wondering: can I store fruits in sugar syrup myself?
The answer is yes! And below, we’ll talk you through exactly how to make sugar syrup, which fruits you can preserve in sugar syrup, and how long your sugar syrup will last.
Preserving fruits in sugar syrup will help maintain their shape, color, and flavor.
For those of you who want a fast rundown: The quantities of water and sugar you should use in your sugar syrup depend on how sweet the fruits you’re preserving are. You can expect your fruits preserved in sugar syrup to last for up to a year.
How To Make Sugar Syrup
First thing’s first, make sure you sterilize your jar. Wash it thoroughly with dish soap, rinse, then pour boiling hot water in. Leave it for 10 minutes, then pour the water out.
This will ensure your jar doesn’t transfer any bacteria to your fruit or sugar syrup.
To be on the extra safe side, you can soak all your utensils in boiling water too.
Prepping The Fruit
Next up, clean, trim, and cut your fruits. Be sure to remove any soft or decayed spots, and try to use fruit that is at its peak ripeness – not underripe or overripe, as they won’t ripen anymore!
Making The Sugar Syrup
Here’s where it gets complicated. Depending on the fruit you’re using, you will need to make a specific strength of sugar syrup.
- Very Light Syrup 10%: For very sweet fruits, use 6 ½ cups water and ¾ cups sugar.
- Light Syrup 20%: For sweet fruits, use 3 ¾ cups water and 1 ½ cups sugar.
- Medium Syrup 30%: For fruits like sweet apples, sweet cherries, berries, and grapes, use 5 ¼ cups water and 2 ¼ cups sugar.
- Heavy Syrup 40%: For fruits like tart apples, apricots, sour cherries, gooseberries, peaches, pears, and plums, use 5 cups water and 2 ¼ cups sugar.
- Very Heavy Syrup 50%: For very sour fruits, use 4 ¼ cups water to 4 ¼ cups sugar.
As you’ve probably ascertained, the sweeter the fruit is, the less sugary the sugar syrup needs to be, and vice versa.
Once you’ve worked out your quantities (scale the above proportions up and down accordingly), just pop them in a pan over a low heat and dissolve the sugar.
Once all the sugar has dissolved and the syrup has thickened a bit, bring the syrup to the boil.
Option One: Cold Packs
If you’re “cold packing” your fruits, simply place your fruits in your pre-prepared jars and pour the sugar syrup over them.
Don’t fill the container to the top, but it’s essential that all your fruits are submerged completely.
Option Two: Hot Packs
If you prefer hot packing, once you’ve brought the sugar syrup to the boil, add in the fruit. Reheat to boil, then portion the mixture out into jars.
As with the other method, make sure there’s at least half an inch empty space at the top of each jar, and immerse all the fruit. Close the jar, and you’re good to go!
You can also replace sugar with light corn syrup or mild-flavored honey, for a healthier alternative.
However, artificial sweeteners will either become bitter or lose their sweetening power, when they’re in water over a long period of time, so add these right before serving.
Where To Store Fruits In Sugar Syrup
For freshly-made sugar syrup that hasn’t been opened for consumption yet, look for a cool, dry, dark place. The ideal place is a cool cellar or basement, but it will be fine in the pantry or kitchen cabinet.
If you store the jars in the kitchen, make sure they’re in a location far away from any heat sources.
For opened sugar syrup, reseal the jar and keep it in the refrigerator.
What Types Of Fruit Can I Preserve In Sugar Syrup?
You’ve got a whole range of options or tart, sour, and sweet fruits you can preserve in sugar syrup.
You can preserve a lot of stone fruits, like apricots, nectarines, sour cherries, and peaches.
There is also a range of berries you can preserve in sugar syrup, like gooseberries, red currants, and blueberries.
Tart and sour fruits are a good option too – consider grapefruit and tangerine segments.
Now: for fruits with peels, you don’t need to remove the peel but doing so will help the sugar syrup penetrate the fruit better.
But don’t worry about peeling fruits with thin peels, like grapes or cherries.
The only fruits you shouldn’t preserve in sugar syrup are those that are high in fat, like coconut and avocado, or melon fruits, like watermelon and bananas.
How Long Will My Fruit In Sugar Syrup Last?
This all depends: on the specific fruit you used, how well you sterilized the jar, and how well you stored your sugar syrup.
Remember: acidic fruits preserved in syrup last longer than sweet fruits. That’s because sweet fruits active chemical reactions, inhibiting microbial growth.
On the whole, though, you can expect your fruits preserved in sugar syrup to last in the pantry for about a year.
Once you’ve opened your jar of fruits and sugar syrup, aim to finish it within a week. You’ll find lots of sources on the internet saying you can keep your opened fruits in sugar for up to a month, but we wouldn’t recommend it.
Will My Fruit Preserved In Syrup Go Bad?
Your fruit is unlikely to go bad if everything is sterile, but, if one piece of fruit is moldy, or the jar wasn’t sterilized properly, you could find your jars of fruits in sugar syrup have gone bad. Here are the key things to look out for:
- Mold. Any sign of mold and you should throw that jar of fruit out immediately!
- Discoloration. Depending on how you’ve made your sugar syrup and the fruits, the color of your sugar syrup will likely be different each time. However, if you notice any unusual discolorations – like black or green patches in the liquid – this is a sign that bacteria have invaded the jar.
- Smell. A sour or musky smell is a sure fire sign your fruit is too old to eat.
- Taste. If all of the above seems fine but you’re still concerned, taste a piece of fruit. Don’t worry – having a little won’t do you any harm!
Preserving Fruits In Sugar Syrup: The Summary
Now you know how to make sugar syrup and how to preserve your fruits with it. Great! Here’s a recap if you need it:
- Some of the only fruits you can’t preserve in sugar syrup include fruits that are high in fat and melon fruits.
- Expect your fruits preserved in sugar syrup to last for up to a year in a cool, dry, dark place.
- Once you’ve opened your jar up, make sure you reseal it, store it in the refrigerator, and consume it within 7 days.